Are home inspectors overstepping their expertise?

Thought this may be of interest regarding recent concerns about home inspectors and safety. Most particularly when removing electrical service panel covers.…98&postcount=1

Hi Claude,

this debate apears to come up every year in on way or another. I believe that properly trained home inspectors are knowledgable enough to be able to safely remove deadfronts.

Untrained inspectors are a danger to themselves and their clients in all areas.



Recognition of the hazard goes to your training and experience.

I have worked with 480 up to 6600 Volt Motors. These were part of routine (with training) operation, transfer, and inspection.

16.5 KV Motor / Generator Breakers with multiple Feeders was the extent of my training. Operation of these Breakers by Operations personnel was limited to Emergency situations.

Residential Panels and 3 Phase Commercial panels are easy when given the proper respect.

Please expand on this!

Tell us what is proper PPE!n please as I am tired of pointing out the obvious …

Maybe the folks will listen to you.:roll:

Yes, Joe

We are all ears

Proper tools…

Proper gloves…

Safety Glasses

Nomex Clothing…

100 % Cotton at all times as an alternative…

When I worked in a Chemical environment, I was one of the few that wore 100% Cotton Denim Pants/Shirts under the Nomex outerwear.

Bottom line is respect for the work that you are performing. Expect the Unexpected at all times. If you are prepared, you will be protected.

Right on the bullseye Joe.


Right before I left my previous employment, we experienced a sudden and unexpected explosion on an adjacent processing unit.

A friend of mine, (with 20 years experience) was able to dodge the Flash of Eruptive Fire by stepping aside behind a 10" inch wide “I” Beam to watch the Fire pass him. Everything in the Fire’s path was engulfed and consumed.

He emerged unscathed.

What he witnessed were the less experienced that were not as fortunate as himself. They perished and/or remain disabled today.

It is a hard lesson to experience. It is a lesson that makes each individual what they are Today.

It is those experiences that are passed on for lessons learned to be employed at a later date…

I am no longer in that work environment.

However the hard lessons learned carry on to my encounters and business dealings today. Much of what I have experienced can not be truly realized or appreciated.

It is what I am and those experiences become part of the HI Reporting that I pass on…

They are real life experiences…

[FONT=Georgia]Here’s some of the material I use during my classes, I believe the Home Inspector falls into Category 2:


[/FONT]• To simplify the process of selecting appropriate arc flash protection, the company has assigned a hazard risk category for any job task you may perform.

• These hazard risk categories, ranging from zero to four, are based on potential incident energy levels determined by an arc hazard analysis as well as additional risk assessment of the equipment located in your facility.

• The hazard risk category of a job task determines the minimum level of arc flash protection required while performing work in the arc hazard boundary.

• Flame-resistant clothing and other arc flash protection carry a rating from the manufacturer called an “arc rating.” This is a measure of how much heat energy the material can withstand before the wearer experiences the onset of a 2nd degree burn.

• Before performing any electrical job task, workers will be informed of the arc hazards associated with the task and what level of arc flash protection is required. This may be communicated through a job briefing, site specific
training or by warning labels located on the equipment.

• Your company may require more stringent protection than the minimum requirements. If so, always follow your company’s regulations concerning arc flash protection.


• Job tasks with minimal risk of arc flash exposure are classified as “hazard category zero.” These job tasks simply require long sleeves and long pants made of non-melting fibers such as 100 percent cotton or wool fabric.

• These natural fibers provide no protection from heat energy, but they will not melt into your skin if they do catch fire.

• Category zero tasks also require non-conductive safety eye wear.

• One example of a category zero job task is reading a door-mounted meter while the door remains closed.


• Job tasks classified as hazard category one require protective clothing with a minimum arc rating of four
calories per square centimeter.

• This level of protection, commonly referred to as “level one,” can be accomplished by wearing a long sleeve FR-rated shirt and FR-rated pants, or an FR-rated coverall.

• One hundred percent cotton jeans with a minimum of 12 ounces of material per square yard may be combined with an FR-rated long sleeve shirt to meet the level one requirements.

• Also required is an electrically-rated hardhat and non-conductive safety eye wear.

• Removing bolted covers to expose live parts on panel boards rated 240 volts and below is an example of a category one job task.

I didn’t read every single word of that document Claude, but it seems to me it was talking about work around overhead utilities and work in and around electrical transmission and distribution facilities.
I think everyone is getting a bit carried away at times on this board. Home inspectors remove covers and visually inspect residential 120/240 volt panels and need to follow basic electrical safety rules, mainly, wear a good pair of boots and safety glasses when inspecting a panel and be aware of other points of contact.

Nope Sorry…I dont believe I am overstepping anything…:slight_smile:

Are they really asking for licensed electricians to take off covers?

Home Inspectors have not had problems in the past.

I think that they will stay away from live electrics if they have not been trained. :mrgreen:

lol…lets give credit to HI’s…they know enough to know what can kill them versus doing something they dont feel comfortable with…and if they DONT then educators are not doing our jobs…

I should REVISE that statement…NACHI inspectors know enough to be safe…it’s the others we worry about…thehehe…sorry I could not resist;)

Just read a good article on AFCIs where they made the statement that many more people get killed from “electrical fires” than from “electrical shock”. That makes sense, but all things considered if you perform an inspection in an unsafe manner and are not cautious when working around electrical components then you can likely get killed just as easily operating a power tool while out in the shop or garage. Simple precautions such as not putting your face, fingers and hands where they do not belong, and slowing down enough to remove and replace panel covers carefully. Learning when to recognize not to proceed is also important. Going beyond the SOP by someone not trained (and comfortable) to perform those tasks will often result in someone getting hurt. I hear of more inspectors falling off ladders and roofs than getting electrocuted probably because most of us have had the experience of “riding the lightning” a time or two and have at least a healthy respect for electricity. If someone does not know what they are doing they are already in trouble and it will eventually catch up to them. I operated a small airborne sonar system in the Navy that had a pwr supply that provided 10,000 volts. All that in a small black box and even just walking by it would make the hair on the side of your leg stand out, but we knew not to be “messin wiff it” unless necessary and then took all the required precautions. Bottom line is, if you don’t know what you are going, go get trained and if you do, carry on and be careful. If you want a perfectly safe job you entered the wrong profession.

I don’t agree Paul. There are a lot of inspectors on this board who sound like they need to learn a lot. And not just in the electrical field. That is why I have suggested that NACHI could elevate itself and its members by developing a mentoring program.

lol…well I was actually trying interjecting HUMOR…lol…since it is a NACHI board…but I can see my humor is lost…lol…or rye at best

Actually i mentoring program sounds great…not sure how to enforce it since some areas are weak in NACHI members…and sad to say some inspectors in some areas do not care to help anyone they feel is going to potentially DIP into their pockets…sad but a true fact.

Paul, does anyone know how many HI’s are injured by electricity? Or how many injuries occur taking of the panel cover?


I am not sure…but I would venture to say it is not many if any a year because of education. Now, the rate is probably ( only guessing ) is higher in electricians because they get careless over time…Not that they are not trying to be safe…just get into a groove and the safety procedures start to slack a little.

Personally…I think HI’s are fine with removing panel covers…as long as they follow the proper protcol they should be fine…as long as they don’t go probing around…lol

The thing we really need is having some carpenters, plumbers, HVAC guys and so on to start visiting and answering questions and the level of knowledge will rise even more…

The guys who are getting injured are not going to post this information. There is always a group of people within an industry who do things they should not do. [all industries]
I will say that when the first HI gets seriously injured or killed, then your industry will feel the pinch. What you want to do is be proactive and prevent such an incident by following the proper procedure(s).

It will also benefit your industry, as you will show professionalism.